Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Brandon Wanted to Spend Nearly $30 Billion on a “Civilian Climate Corps”

At a time when inflation is becoming a major problem, the government is tens of trillions of dollars in debt, and the money supply has increased by about 20% in one year alone, it would make sense to start pinching taxpayer pennies and not spending money on random pipe dreams.

Unfortunately for America, Brandon fully intends on spending taxpayer money on such random pipe dreams, blowing both what the tax collectors have brought in and what Jerome Powell’s money printers have printed on random leftist objectives.

One random such objective is a “Civilian Climate Corps,” which would have been like FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps, except completely useless because it would have focused not on building and marking trails in the wilderness or preparing America’s young adults to follow orders, but instead on the phantom menace of global warming.

As Brandon’s Executive Order put it, the Civilian Climate Corps “shall aim to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation, and address the changing climate.”

All noble objectives to be sure, as most relate to the great outdoors, but those are things that volunteers normally do, not government bureaucrats.

And how much did Brandon want to pay for the Civilian Climate Corps, which would theoretically be doing activities that volunteers normally do? A massive $27 billion. As RealClearPolicy reports:

In Biden’s Build Back Better proposal, he calls for hiring 300,000 Americans at a cost of anywhere from $10 to $30 billion for his Climate Corps, at a cost of between $40,000 to $70,000 per member. That’s low for some Congressional Democrats. Sen. Ed Markey and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have introduced the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act, asking for $132 billion for a corps of 1.5 million members.

The CCC is currently in Biden’s Build Back Better proposal that passed the House of Representatives on November 19, 2021, and includes about $7 billion for staffing the CCC. The bill stalled in the Senate after Sen. Joe Manchin announced he wouldn’t vote for it, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has vowed to call a vote on it again.

The real CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps, was created by FDR in 1933 and performed all manner of tasks, from cutting trails to building roads and infrastructure. It employed millions of people in the 9 years it existed, built hundreds of thousands of dams, constructed about 100,000 miles of roads and trails, and built tens of thousands of bridges.

It was a roaring success, building many pieces of infrastructure that America needed and employing hundreds of thousands of Americans a year at a time when the Depression was still ravaging the economy and keeping people out of work.

Focused as it is on a leftist pipe dream rather than realistic infrastructure objectives, it’s doubtful Brandon’s CCC program would be as effective as FDR’s. It probably won’t help that there’s Brandon, a senile, gaffe-prone fool, in charge, rather than a brilliant politician like FDR.


U.S. fossil fuel production set to hit record highs in 2023

America’s production of fossil fuels is expected to hit a record high in 2023, as continued improvements in drilling efficiency in oil and gas and high enough oil prices will support increased output of all fossil fuels, including coal, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Friday.

The combined production of fossil fuels—natural gas, crude oil, and coal—rose in 2021 by 2 percent to 77.14 quadrillion British thermal units, following a decline in 2020, when the pandemic hit. The administration expects U.S. fossil fuel production to continue rising both this year and next, exceeding 2019 production levels and reaching a new record in 2023.

Last year, dry natural gas accounted for the largest share, 46 percent, of the total U.S. fossil fuel production. Crude oil accounted for 30 percent, coal for 15 percent, and natural gas plant liquids (NGPLs) for 9 percent. Those shares to remain similar through 2023, the EIA said.

Dry natural gas production rose by 2 percent last year in 2021, the administration estimates, and predicts that improvements in drilling efficiency and new-well production will contribute to production increases of 3 percent in 2022 and 2 percent in 2023.

Coal production last year is estimated to have jumped by 7 percent due to higher demand for electricity generation on the back of rising natural gas prices. This year, coal production is set to rise by 6 percent as coal-fired electricity generators rebuild inventory levels. In 2023, coal production will rise by only 1 percent as demand for coal in the electric power sector declines, the EIA said.


What Solution Do Renewable Energy Advocates Offer For The Problem Of Storage?

The import of all of these studies is that as renewables come to dominate the mix of electricity generation, and particularly as their share of generation goes above 50% and on towards 100%, and fossil fuel backup gets phased out, then the cost of necessary storage becomes far and away the dominant cost of the overall system. Therefore, any meaningful proposal to replace fossil fuel generation with renewables must grapple with this issue.

So what is the solution that the dissenting commenters offer for the problem of increasing need for expensive storage? They don’t offer any at all. Instead, they appear to think that the whole problem can be assumed away or ignored.

The dissenting commenters were three in number, and posted under the pseudonyms “Johnathan Galt,” “GKam,” and “reneawbleguy.” Galt and GKam each posted only one comment, but “reneawbleguy” posted over forty.

The gist of all these comments really comes down to the same thing, namely that the renewables are rapidly becoming cheaper than fossil fuels to generate electricity, if they are not so already, and therefore fossil fuels are a dying industry. Mixed in with this point is a good deal of snide and accusatory language, essentially asserting that anyone who may disagree as to the relative full cost of renewables must necessarily be both ignorant and politically motivated. (e.g., GKam: “More science nonsense from this group of political hacks. . . . Give it up You have already lost.”). Meanwhile, all three fail to deal in any real way with the storage problem inherent in expansion of generation from the renewables.

Here is “reneawbleguy” on the relative cost of fossil fuel electricity generation versus renewables:

Energy costs savings. RE will be cheaper that FF business as usual. 10.43 cents per kw-hr FF 7.81 cents per kw-hr RE. Dollars into our pockets is a clear difference favoring RE. Clear difference.
Money cost savings per person.

No source is cited, but I would agree that approximately these numbers can be found in some studies of relative costs of the renewables versus fossil fuels. But the studies that get these numbers do so by ignoring the entire storage problem completely.

Similarly, from Galt:

[T]he only consideration to consumers is, was, and always will be “what is the delivered cost to me?” That is neatly quantified in Lazard’s excellent publication providing LCOE.

As I have pointed out on this blog numerous times, the Lazard numbers for “LCOE” (Levelized Cost of Energy) specifically omit any inherent costs of necessary storage. Since the cost of storage is the dominant cost of the all-renewable system, LCOE is the opposite of a “neat quantification” of comparative electricity generation costs, and rapidly becomes completely misleading as the percentage generated from renewables increases beyond 50%.

GKam is even less sophisticated, simply relying on his own personal experience with a home getting its power from rooftop solar panels:

My entire household and both electric cars are powered by the PV system on our roof, as "Galt" can tell you, and it gives us free power having paid back in three years.

GKam does not enlighten us as to how he gets his electricity at night, or overcast days in the winter, or whether he has purchased batteries sufficient to store up power from the summer for use during those long winter nights. If he lives in the United States, it is almost certain that he relies on his local grid — in other words, on fossil fuel backup, with perhaps some nuclear thrown in — for power during those times.

Of the three dissenting commenters, the only one who addresses the storage issue at all is Galt. He asserts, with great confidence, that new battery technologies are coming to make the storage problem go away:

At least two separate technologies, Ambri and Form Energy, will almost certainly have their first large factories up and running within 5 years. Both use common materials (antimony and calcium, iron), both are environmentally safe. Ambri’s battery is 100% recyclable, and in theory may last more than 100 years. Form Energy’s product is likewise 100% recyclable, should cost only 20% that of Lithium Ion, and although the lifespan is not yet advertised it has the potential for similar lifetime of use (simply a “reversible rusting” process).

So the proposal is that a government-mandated total transformation of the entire energy system of our economy should depend on one or another of two not-yet-invented-or demonstrated-at-scale technologies, which may or may not work, and the cost projections of which may be wildly off. Galt does not do any actual numerical calculations. But at a cost of “20% that of Lithium ion” the storage systems he is talking about would still imply a cost of around $100 trillion in Ken Gregory’s spreadsheet, some 5 times current U.S. GDP. Shouldn’t this be acknowledged as a problem? And how can you advocate use of Lazard’s “LCOE” numbers for relative costs of energy sources when those calculations omit a $100 trillion item applicable to wind and solar but not to fossil fuels?

So I say to these three commenters: it’s time to step up your game. Don’t just make unsupported assertions that wind and solar are cheaper. Give us a spreadsheet with a numerical demonstration of how much storage a fully wind/solar/storage electricity system for the U.S. will need, what technology will be used to provide it, and how much that will cost. Without that, you are just dealing in fantasy. I for one will be happy to have the all-renewable system if someone can demonstrate that it can be built and will work at reasonable cost.


A ban on conservatories is exactly the sort of idiocy that could finish off Boris and ‘net zero’

The clue’s in the name: the Conservative Party. How can the Conservative Party even think of banning conservatories? Did they miss the memo? How could they be unaware that an attack on conservatory-dwellers is an attack on everything it means to be a Conservative: aspirational, home-owning, family-oriented – and rather proud of the garden? The proposed restrictions on conservatory building in the name of “net zero” are a red rag to the already enraged core of Britain’s Tory voters.

Such obvious facts are no longer visible from the inner ring of the death spiral that Boris Johnson’s premiership appears to have entered. Instead of throwing things desperately out of the tornado, in the hope that they will catch onto something – Boats! Sonic blasts! Ghana! The BBC! – No 10 ought to reflect upon why the Boris operation is so damnably short of grappling hooks.

Here and there it drifts, sustained only by the occasional outburst of brilliant oratory, like air blasted into a hot-air balloon. The only thing needed to burst the bubble was the pinprick of a scandal like Partygate and hey ho, down it goes.

Soon, however, if Mr Johnson can last that long, the party rage will be spent and he will have an opportunity to do something other than flounder. Here is something he could actually do that would genuinely improve people’s lives: he could start to solve the critical situation in our energy supply.

This situation, unlike supply chain congestion, is entirely a mess of our own making. Rising household bills are now one of the main contributors to inflation, which is outstripping wage growth. Later this year, in spite of the price cap, costs are expected to smash all records set over the last decade, taking us from an average annual bill of around £1,200 to one potentially over £1,500.

At present, the debate on what to do about this centres on fiddling about with VAT, which accounts for 5 per cent of your bill, or company profits, which account for 1-2 per cent. Thanks for nothing, Westminster.

Politicians could move the dial a bit by suspending various green levies and boiler schemes. But the “social” costs loaded onto consumers are in fact mostly made up of redistributive policies like giving discounts to poor households. That is not something it would be wise to suspend during a price spike.

By far the biggest share of our bills is made up of the simple cost of energy on the open market. If the Government is not prepared to pull any levers that increase our energy supply, then there is little it can do to bring down costs.

In fact, for 20 years, governments have been doing the opposite: shutting down coal generation and only partially replacing it with renewable generation, which depends on the weather. They claimed they were “diversifying” supply by building up our ability to import gas. But guess what: it turns out that when gas is choked off at one end of the European continent by pernicious Russian policy, it affects us at the other end, no matter how many pipelines and terminals we have built.

Fortunately for Boris, there is something he could do about this relatively quickly. He could put together a package of incentives to ramp up exploration and production of gas in the North Sea.

Gas producers wouldn’t be able to fill demand in time to affect prices this year, but they could almost certainly raise production enough in the next few years to take the pressure off households and stabilise energy costs for the next decade, giving us valuable time to build a large-scale nuclear energy programme to replace all those coal plants that were hastily shut down.

After all, Norway, whose gas explorers operate just the other side of the North Sea, has managed to keep its reserves steady over the past 30 years, while Britain’s gas industry, treated recklessly as a cash cow by successive governments, has gone into sharp decline.

Nor would this approach mean junking the Government’s net zero aspirations. At present, we import more than a fifth of our gas in liquid form on tankers, one of the most energy inefficient and expensive ways to use the fuel. Domestic production would simply displace a large slice of that consumption and see us through to the low-carbon era.

In the long run, a far more ambitious nuclear programme, improvements in energy storage and a carbon tariff to prevent emissions being moved offshore would enable the UK to deliver lower emissions without becoming the poster-child for how to impoverish yourself through reckless green policies.

There is only one reason why a Conservative Government would shy away from this policy: it’s afraid of the environmentalist movement.

Green protesters are peculiarly parochial in their view of carbon emissions. They think that if the UK produces more of its own gas, it mechanically increases the amount of gas the world uses, ignoring the fact that markets are dynamic. There is no point trying to convince the most zealous of these believers. There will always be another bevy of them waiting to throw themselves onto motorways or block bridges. And if the Government gets serious about reviving domestic energy markets, you can bet the Extinction crew will stop at nothing to sabotage the plan.

Rather than cowering before their roadblocks, Boris should go into battle. It is unacceptable that a tiny minority should determine policy for the rest of the country when households are struggling to manage an extraordinary hit to living standards.

Voters want to see a Prime Minister willing to stand up for their interests with policies that will deliver a noticeable improvement to their lives. They would warm to someone who is tough enough to take a battering dished out by the green establishment. They are tired of instead listening to a dithering man without a plan promising he will “unleash Britain’s potential” by banning conservatories and kiboshing our gas hobs.

I’m among those who believe that a shift to “net zero” energy production is necessary and that Britain can benefit from being at the forefront of it. But there is no future for this agenda if it simply becomes a proxy for a sustained assault on our quality of life, first through our gas bills and then via our home improvements. And there is no future for a prime minister who follows up outrage and scandal with platitudes and joyless, environmentalist finger-wagging.

It’s time to stop telling us what we can’t do and start telling us what we can and will do to improve our lot. Otherwise, Boris might as well just give up now.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM )

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)


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